Lawyers, Low-Income Housing & Other Resources

This is an informational resource list. None of the following organizations have affiliation with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

Legal Organization Referrals

Evictions (tenant must be low-income)

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (referral must be faxed)…………..312-784-3527

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (serves Spanish speakers)………………..…312-332-1624

Chicago Legal Clinic (retaliatory eviction only) (serves Spanish speakers)………773-731-1762

Advice before court or to get an extension to stay:

CARPLS Advice Desk Room 602, Daley Center located at Station 7 – Pro se defendants only

Kent Law School Advice Desk Room 602, Daley Center – Pro se defendants only

Illinois Legal Aid Online Pro Se  www.IllinoisLegalAid.org  www.AyudaLegalIl.org

Tenants in CHA or HUD housing or on a Section 8 program

LAF (must fit under income guidelines)…312-341-1070

(unit conditions ONLY)……………….312-229-6093

Cabrini Green Legal Aid……..312-738-2452

Security Deposit Defense

Chicago Legal Clinic (deposit must be $2500 & over) ($30 1st visit & court)….773-731-1762

Cabrini Green Legal Clinic (income guideline & $20.00 fee)……….312 738 2452

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing……(312) 784-3527

Tenants over 60 years of age

Chicago Department on Aging………312-744-4016

Tenants with Disabilities And Seniors

Mayor’s Office for People with disability up to age 59 ……….312-744-6673

Legal Clinic for the Disabled and seniors (must receive referral from Chgo. Dept. Of Aging)……. 312-908-4463

Center for Disability and Elder Law (they also cover legal issues beyond Tenant/Landlord)………312 376 1880

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4)…………………………………………………………………..773-769-0205

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago HELPLINE………………………………………………….312-563-0445

Tenants living in Logan Square or surrounding neighborhoods:

Micah Legal Aid……… …….773 463-6768

Tenants living in or around Uptown area 60640

Uptown People’s Law Office (Eviction Defense Only) ………… ………773-769-1411

Suburbanites with questions

CARPLS (Cook County, serves Spanish speaking tenants too)…… …..312-738-9200

Open Communities (North & Northwest Cook County Suburbs)…847-501-5760

Prairie State Legal Services DeKalb & Kane………..630-232-9415

Du Page……… ..630-690-2130

Kane………….…630-232-9415

Lake & McHenry………847-662-6925

Will………………815-727-5123

Peoria…………….309-674-9831

MTO Lawyer Referral List

PRIVATE ATTORNEYS

Aldon Patt (security deposit) ……….312-641-0885

Berton N. Ring (class action & appellate, Mold Inspectors)…………..312-781-0290

Brian Gilbert (eviction, security deposit, and consumer defense)….872-216-4615

Daniel M. Starr (security deposits, evictions and class actions)………….. 312-346-9420

David Morris (security deposit, affirmative RLTO, class actions, retaliation, lockouts, illegal entry, trespass, and utility theft if $3000 or more is owed to tenant) Chicago, Mt. Prospect, Oak Park and Evanston………………312-986-3200

Hall Adams (bed bugs, must demonstrate via paper trail that the bed bug issue has occurred)……………….. 312-445-4900

Joan Fenstermaker (security deposit, retaliation, foreclosure, illegal lockouts and illegal late fees)…….312-371-6473 or http://givemebackmydeposit.com/

John Norkus (security deposit, unit conditions, evictions, consumer)…312-600-7457

Joseph F. Vitu    ……….312-726-2323

Susan Ritacca …………… 872-222-6960

Michael A. Childers (security deposit, other legal advice)………..312- 641-1900 (speak or leave message with Beverly Hadley)

Mike Radzilowsky (primarily evictions)   …………312-986-0600

Morgan Cook (tenant-landlord law, debt collection defense)…………………….312-880-7215 or www.legalmcfirm.com

Paul Bernstein (security deposit).…1-866-769-2892

William Moore (security deposits, affirmative RLTO) ……………….. 708-268-3495

Chicago Bar Association (for other Attorney referrals)…………….312-554-2001
(Free Legal Advice every 3rd Saturday of the month & no income guidelines.)

Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission………….…. (312) 565-2600

Government & Other Resources

Ameritech Reverse Directory (to find landlord address)…………411

CEDA (weatherization program for low income)……………800-571-2332

Center for Conflict Resolution (Mediation)……………312-922-6464

CHAC Fraud Hotline…………………………..800-533-0441

CHA………………………………312-935-2600

Chicago Dept. on Aging + (disabled & tenants over 60)…………312-744-4016

Chicago Department of Childhood Lead Poisoning….(312) 747-5323

Chicago Dept. of Community Development……………………………311 or 312.744.5000

Chicago Housing Authority (CHA Housing and Sec. 8)…………312-742-8500

CHA Hotline (for complaints about CHA management)……………………1-800-544-7139

Circuit Court Clerk’s Office (to find out if you’re being sued)…………312-603-5030

Citizen’s Utility Board (complaints about utility bill)…………..…800-669-5556

Condo Owners………. 312-987-1906

Cook County Recorder of Deeds (Sale of Property Info)………312-603-5050

Cook County Sheriff’s Eviction Unit…………….312-603-3365

Cook County States Attorney Consumer Fraud………..312-814-3000

Department of Consumer Services (sec. deposit & utility theft complaints) …312-744-4090

Department of Human Services (emergency shelter)………312-746-5400

Eviction Court…………………..312-603-6486
Or cookcountyclerkofcourt.org (full docket search)

For Building Inspections & Emergency Rental Assistance…………..311 or 312-744-5000

HOME (Seniors needing help moving) …………..(773) 921-1332

MTO Hotline* – Tenants Rights …. 773-292-4988 (M-F, 1-5pm)

HUD Complaints about Section 8 Counselor……………….312-353-6236

HUD…………………………..312-353-7776

IL Commerce Commission (regulates utility providers)…………800-524-0795

Independent Police Review Authority (to file complaint against police) ……………… 312-745-3609

Lakeside CDC (condo owners)……………………..773 381 5253

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)………..312-795-8800

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (social support for the elderly)…………312-455-1000

Pro Se Court, Rm 602, Daley Center (for claims up to $1500)……….312-603-5626

Rental Assistance & Utility Assistance………311 or 312.744.5000, ask for short term help

Shriver Center (victims of sexual & domestic assault)………….……..….312-263-3830

Small Claims Court (for claims between $1500 to $5000) .Civil Division…..312-603-5145

United States Postal Service……………………………….800-275-8777

Discrimination

Access Living (disability 226-1687TDD-hearing impaired)………312-640-2100

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law………312-630-9744

Commission on Human Relations (all discrimination complaints)…312-744-4111

Illinois Department of Human Rights (Fair Housing Division)………………..312-814-6227

John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal clinic…………312-786-2267

Latinos United (referrals and trainings)………….312-226-0151

Foreclosure

newschicago.org or cookcountyassessor.com (to get PIN # of the property, then call recorder of deeds)

Recorder of Deeds……………………………………312-603-5050

(Give them PIN# to see if apt. has a case #, if it has a case number call Chancery Court 312-603-5133)

Neighborhood Housing Services (landlords facing foreclosure)…………….773-329-4010

Tenants in foreclosure (income guideline & costs)

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (referral must be faxed).……312- 784-3507

(Statewide)……………………….855-207-8347

Low-Income Housing Resources:

www.ILHousingSearch.org

Bickerdike Apartments (low-income housing)…………………………………………773-227-6332
– Provides housing for low-income tenants.

Chicago Housing Authority…………………………………………………….. …….. (312) 742-8500
– The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal housing rental assistance program. It allows low-
income families to rent good housing in the private market. The voucher program pays a portion of their rent each month directly to the property owner or manager.

Cook County Housing Authority…………………………………………………………(312)542-4728
– Provides access to decent, safe, and affordable housing to low and moderate income individuals, families,
elderly and/or disabled within suburban Cook County.

Earthly Women Corp. ……………………………………………………………………..708 822 3786
– Serves women and single parents.

East Lake Management & Development Corp…………………………………..……..312.842.5500
– Offers affordable housing to tenants throughout the chicagoland area.

Habitat Corp……………………………………………………………………..…….….(312)527-5700
– Provides housing for low-income tenants.

Heartland Alliance……………………………………………………………………..….312- 660-1300
– They build and advocate for safe, high-quality housing and supportive services for people experiencing
homelessness, poverty, or chronic illness.

Hispanic Housing Development Corporation………………………………………… (312) 602-6500
– Provides housing for low-income families and the elderly.

Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)………….……. 773-921-3200
– Committed to improving the quality of life for Chicago’s low-income elderly, Housing Opportunities and
Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) helps seniors remain independent and part of their community by
offering opportunities for intergenerational living and by providing a variety of citywide support services.

Housing Opportunities for Women…………………………………………….………(773) 465-5770
– Their goal is to help homeless women and children exit the homeless shelter system as quickly as possible
by providing rental subsidies to secure permanent housing. They also offer employment services.

IL Housing Development Authority……………………………………………….…… (312)836-5200
– Help create and fund affordable housing programs across the state.

Mercy Housing Lakefront Office………………………………………………………….312.447.4500
– To create stable, vibrant and healthy communities by developing, financing and operating affordable,
program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs who lack the economic
resources to access quality, safe housing opportunities.

Landlords seeking assistance

Chicago Rents Right…….………………312-742-7369

Spanish Coalition for Housing…………773-276-7633

Community Investment Corporation……………312 258 0070

or via email (preferred): taft.west@cicchicago.com

Neighborhood Housing Services (landlords facing foreclosure)…………….773-329-4010

Resources for Homeowners:

Partners In Community Building, Inc…………….312.328.0873
– Financial Literacy, Credit Repair, Other services

Translation Services:

Chinese American Service League (Translation, Southside)…………………312-791-0418

Chinese Mutual Aid (Translation, North side)……………………………………773-784-2900

Polish American Association……………………………………………..773-282-8206

Resources for writing letters or other areas of support (citywide)

LIFT- Chicago Uptown Office…………………………773-303-0700

LIFT- Chicago Pilsen Office……………………………312-994-8387

Security Deposit Interest – Sample Letter

This letter applies to residents within the city of Chicago only who are covered under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO). Please see the Exceptions to the RLTO to ensure the law applies to you.
For tenants in suburban Chicagoland, please click here for the law as it applies in your town.

Security Deposit Interest

Find Your Landlord’s Contact Information

Landlord’s Name
First, you must find out the Property Identification Number (PIN) of your building. Online, you can try www.newschicago.org. If the website is down or it is not finding your building, you can call the Cook County Assessor’s office at 312-443-7550.
Once you have the PIN number, you can go to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ website and click the link to do a “Property Identification Number (PIN) Search.” This page can get a bit confusing, so a phone call to their office is a good alternative at 312-603-5050.

You can also find out the landlord’s name by going downtown. Begin your search in County Building (118 N. Clark Street).  First go to the Revenue Dept., Room 112, and ask someone at the counter for the Permanent Index Number (PIN number) for the address of the building.   You may also get the PIN number yourself by looking at the green books on the counter.   Go to the tract dept. of the Recorder of Deeds which is located in Room 120.   Give the person at the counter the PIN number and tell them that you want to know the name of the owner of that building.   The grantee of the most recent deed recorded is the owner of the property.   If the property is in a land trust you can send letter to the bank trustee.   They should forward the letter to the beneficiary of the trust your landlord.   The bank will not disclose the name of the beneficiary of the trust to you.   Get the document number of the deed (see below).

Landlord’s Address

  1. Take the document number of the deed to the microfiche department in the Recorders Office, down the hall from the Tract Dept.   Tell the person behind the counter you want to look at the deed to determine the grantee’s address.   Give him the document number.   Look at the deed for the grantee’s address, usually near the beginning.   This is the landlord’s address at the time he/she purchased the building.   The address could be near the bottom under “send subsequent tax bills to”.   If it is a corporation, call the Secretary of State at 312-793-3380 to get the name of the registered agent and corporation’s address.
  2. Call the Revenue Dept. 312-443-5100 or 443-6253 to find out the property taxpayer’s name.   Caution – the taxpayer is not necessarily the owner, it could be the previous one.   You can also get this info in Room 112.
  3. If you have the landlord’s phone number, call Ameritech’s Reverse Directory at 312-796-9600.   They will give you the address if the number is listed.
  4. Call the City’s Dept. of Buildings Multiple Dwelling Registration number 312-744-3452.   All apartment buildings should be registered.   They can give you the name and address of the landlord or landlord’s agent.   However, few buildings are registered even though failure to register is a building code violation.
  5. You can check to see if your landlord is being sued (defendant) by calling the three numbers listed below.   (Or use the computers in room 602 of the Daley Center 50 W. Washington Street.   Type “users” to get to the main menu.)   If he/she is, get the case number.   Then go to the appropriate floor at the Daley Center and look at the file (see below for the location of the different departments). The address where the landlord was served should be on the summons.

Chancery (foreclosure) 312-443-5133 files on 8th floor

Law 312-443-5426 files on 8th floor

Municipal 312-443-5145 files on 6th floor

Divorce Files on 8th floor

Tenant Responsibilities – FAQ

NOTE: If your landlord lives in your building, see the “Exceptions” note on the right side of this page.

As a tenant, what am I required to do?
* Throw out your trash in a clean and safe manner;
* Use all fixtures (such as lights and ceiling fans) and appliances in a reasonable and safe manner;
* Don’t damage the apartment;
* Don’t disturb your neighbors;
* Make sure your family members and guests act appropriately;
* Provide your landlord with reasonable access to your unit (see below); and
* Obey all the lawful provisions of your lease agreement.

Can I be evicted for failing to do these things?
Yes
Please refer to Evictions for more information.

When must I let my landlord into my apartment?
You must let your landlord enter your apartment to:
* Make necessary repairs;
* Supply necessary services;
* Show the apartment to prospective purchasers, workmen, etc.
* Show the apartment to prospective renters within 60 days of the date on which your lease expires; or
* Determine whether you are complying with the terms of your lease agreement. Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Must my landlord give me advance notice before entering my apartment?
Yes. Your landlord must provide you with at least two days notice, and he/she can only enter your unit at a reasonable time. An entry between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. is presumed to be reasonable.
Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Does my landlord ever have the right to enter my apartment without giving me advance notice?
Yes, but only when:
* There is a problem in the common area of the building or in another apartment, and he/she needs to enter your unit to unit to fix this problem; or
* There is an emergency.In either case, your landlord must let you know that he/she entered your apartment within two days after the entry.

What if my landlord keeps coming into my apartment to harass me?
You can call the police. If your landlord does not have a right to be in your apartment, the police should force him/her to leave. You can also:
* File a lawsuit and ask the court to order your landlord to stop entering your apartment more often than necessary; or
* Give your landlord written notice that you will terminate your lease agreement unless he/she stops harassing you within the next 14 days. If he/she does not stop, you can terminate the lease. If you terminate the lease, however, you must move within the next 30 days. Otherwise, the lease will remain in effect.You should consult with an attorney before pursuing either of these two options.
Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Can I refuse to let my landlord into my apartment?
Only if you have a good reason. For instance, you can refuse to let your landlord in if he/she has not provided you with the required advance notice, or if he/she is trying to enter your apartment between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (Remember, however, you cannot refuse to let your landlord in when there is an emergency). If you are not sure whether you have a good reason to deny your landlord access to your apartment, call an attorney or the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (773/292-4988).

What if, without good reason, I refuse to let my landlord into my apartment?
Your landlord can:
* File a lawsuit and ask the court to order you to let him into the apartment; or
* Terminate your lease agreement and have you evicted. Please refer to Evictions for more information.

Can I change the locks without giving my landlord a new set of keys?
No. Even when you have the right to install a new lock, you must give your landlord a key.
Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Do I have to tell my landlord I am moving when my written lease ends?
No. Your lease sets forth the date on which it ends, and you are supposed to move on that date unless you and your landlord agree to renew your lease agreement.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if I do not have a written lease?
If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must give your landlord at least one month advance written notice that you are moving out. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another month’s rent. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you must give your landlord at least 7 days advance written notice that you are moving. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another week’s rent.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if I damage the apartment?
If you have paid a security deposit, your landlord can withhold whatever portion of this deposit is necessary to cover the cost of repairs. (See the pamphlet entitled Security Deposits to find out what procedure your landlord must follow before withholding all or part of this deposit). If the cost of repair is more than your security deposit, or if you never paid a security deposit, your landlord can sue you for the cost of repairs.
Please refer to Apartment Conditions and Repair for more information.

Please Note:This pamphlet, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicagoís Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

Still can’t find the answer? Send us your questions. Please allow several days for a response.

Moving Out – FAQ

NOTE: If your landlord lives in your building, see the “Exceptions” note on the right side of this page.

Do I have to tell my landlord I am moving if I have a written lease?
No. Your lease sets forth the date on which it ends, and you are supposed to move on that date unless you and your landlord agree to renew your lease agreement.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if I do not have a written lease?
If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must give your landlord 30 days written notice that you are moving out. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another month’s rent. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you give your landlord 7 days written notice that you are moving. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another week’s rent.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

Can I use my security deposit to pay the last month’s rent?
Not unless your landlord agrees to let you do this. If you reach such an agreement with your landlord, make sure you get this agreement in writing. A security deposit is not rent. You may get evicted if you treat like rent without your landlord’s written permission.
Please refer to Security Deposits for more information.

Is there anything I can do before I move to make sure I get back my security deposit?
Yes. Clean the apartment, repair any damage you caused, and take pictures of the apartment to verify its condition. You should ask the landlord to:

* Walk through the apartment with you just before you move out; and
* Sign a statement verifying the condition of the apartment.

Please refer to Security Deposits for more information.

What if I move out after the day I am supposed to move?
You may become responsible for an additional month’s rent. For instance, if you are supposed to move on the last day of January, but you don’t actually move until February 2, your landlord may be able to hold you responsible for the February rent.

What if I leave my property behind when I move out?
Your landlord must leave the property in the apartment or store it somewhere safe for 7 days. If the property is not worth the cost of storage, however, he/she can throw it away immediately.

Can I break my lease before it ends?
Only if your landlord agrees to let you out of the lease or violates your rights under the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. If You want to break the lease because your landlord has violated your rights, contact an attorney.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if my landlord doesn’t let me break the lease, but I still move out before the lease ends?
Your landlord must make a good faith effort to re-rent the apartment. If he/she’s unsuccessful, you remain responsible for the rent. If he/she rents it for less than what you were paying, you remain responsible for the difference.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

Can I sublet my apartment?
Yes, and your landlord cannot charge you any subletting fees. Furthermore, if your landlord does not let you sublet to a suitable person, you don’t have to pay rent for the period that begins when the subtenant was willing to move in.

What if my subtenant does not pay the rent?
You become responsible for it.

What happens to my security deposit when I Sublet?
The landlord is entitled to hold your security deposit until the end of the lease, so you should either:

* Ask your landlord to return your deposit and collect a new one from the subtenant; or,
* Collect a security deposit from the subtenant yourself.

The landlord cannot keep a deposit from both you and the subtenant if the total amount of the deposit exceeds the amount listed on the lease.
Please refer to Security Deposits for more information.

Please Note: This information, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicagoís Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

Still can’t find the answer? Send us your questions. Please allow several days for a response.

Unlawful Landlord Entry – Sample Letter

This letter applies to residents within the city of Chicago only who are covered under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO). Please see the Exceptions to the RLTO to ensure the law applies to you.
For tenants in suburban Chicagoland, please click here for the law as it applies in your town.

Unlawful Landlord Entry

Security Deposit Return – Sample Letter

This letter applies to residents within the city of Chicago only who are covered under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO). Please see the Exceptions to the RLTO to ensure the law applies to you.
For tenants in suburban Chicagoland, please click here for the law as it applies in your town.

Sample Letter for Security Deposit

Evictions – FAQ

NOTE: If your landlord lives in your building, see the “Exceptions” note on the right side of this page.

What must my landlord do if he/she wants to have me evicted?
She must file a lawsuit against you. This lawsuit is called an “eviction action” or a “forcible action.” Your landlord cannot have you evicted unless he/she wins this lawsuit.

Does my landlord have to provide me with a written notice before filing an eviction action against me?
Yes. The kind of notice required depends on the landlord’s reason for terminating or refusing to renew your tenancy.

What if my landlord wants me to move when my written lease ends?
At least 30 days before your lease ends, your landlord must provide you with a written notice stating that he/she will not renew your tenancy. Then, if you don’t move he/she can file an eviction action against you.

If I have a written lease agreement, can my landlord have me evicted before it ends?
Only if you violate one of the lease provisions.

What if I’m behind in my rent?
Your landlord can give you a written demand for the rent. This demand is called a “5-day notice” because it states that your tenancy will end unless you pay all the rent owed within no less than 5 days. If you fail to comply with this demand, your landlord can file a lawsuit against you. (If you live in a CHA building, the notice must give you 14 days within which to pay the rent).

What should I do if I receive a 5-day notice?
Give your landlord all the rent you owe within the next 5 days. Bring a witness with you when you make your rent payment. That witness can then testify on your behalf, if your landlord later denies that you paid or tried to pay the amount owed. Always pay with a check or money order. You can then use the canceled check or money order receipt to prove you paid rent on a certain date.

What if the 5-day notice demands more rent than I owe?
Give your landlord just the amount you owe.

What if my landlord refuses to accept my rent within the 5-day period?
He/she gives up his/her right to file an eviction action against you. If he/she still files this action, call an attorney immediately.

If I don’t have all the money I owe, should I give my landlord a partial payment?
Only if he/she agrees, in writing, to (1) allow you to pay the rest of what you owe later, and (2) not evict you for failing to pay everything you owed within 5 days of receiving the termination notice.

What if I offer my landlord the rent after the 5-day period ends?
He/she does not have to accept it. But if he/she does accept it, and if your tenancy is governed by Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, he/she cannot evict you. (See the front cover of this pamphlet to find out whether the Ordinance governs your tenancy.)

What if I violate some other provision of my lease?
Your landlord can serve you with a notice describing the violation and stating that your tenancy will end in no less than 10 days. The notice must also advise you of your right to “cure” within this 10-day period, and thereby preserve your tenancy. If you fail to “cure” the violation in a timely manner, your landlord can file an eviction action against you.

How can I “secure” a lease violation?
By taking whatever action is necessary to correct the violation you committed. Assume, for example, that your lease prohibits you from keeping any pets. If your landlord serves you with a 10-day termination notice because you have a cat, you can cure your violation by getting rid of the cat within 10 days of receiving the notice.

What steps should I take to prove I cured the lease violation?
Within 10 days of receiving the termination notice, send your landlord a letter explaining what action you have taken to cure the violation. Send the letter by certified mail and keep a copy. If your landlord files an eviction action against you, bring the letter to court.

Does the termination notice always have to state a reason for the termination of my tenancy?
That depends on whether you have a written lease or an oral (unwritten) lease. If you have an oral lease, the notice does not have to state a reason for the termination of your tenancy. Instead, it may simply state that your tenancy will end in no less than 7 days (if you pay rent every week), or no less than 30 days (if you pay rent every month). Your landlord must give you this notice at least one day before your rent is due. If you don’t move at the end or this 7 or 30 day period, your landlord can file an eviction action against you.

How will I know whether my landlord has filed an eviction action against me?
You will receive a court document called a “summons,” which states where and when you must appear for trial.

Should I go to court?
Yes. Even if you lose your case, the judge will give you more time to move if you appear in court.

Can I have an attorney represent me in court?
Yes. In fact, you should contact an attorney as soon as you receive a termination notice.

What if I want an attorney but have not been able to contact one before I appear in court for the first time?
When your case is called, just approach the judge and say, “Your Honor, I would like a short continuance so I can get an attorney. I would also like to preserve my right to a jury trial.” If you do not want an attorney, the judge may conduct the trial immediately.

What should I bring with me when I go to court?
Bring the summons you received, as well as any evidence that supports your case (such as your lease agreement, rent receipts, pictures of your apartment, letters you wrote to or received from your landlord, etc.) . You should also bring any witnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf.

What happens at the trial?
Your landlord will present his/her case first. When he/she finishes, you will be allowed to tell your side of the story. Keep it brief. Write out what you are going to say beforehand so you do not forget anything.

What defenses can I assert at the trial?
There are many possible defenses, so you should discuss your case with an attorney before you go to court.

What happens if I lose my case?
The judge will order you to move. he/she may also order you to pay your landlord any rent you owe.

If I lose my case, how much time will I have to move?
In most cases, the judge will postpone your eviction for a period of 7 to 21 days. You cannot be evicted before this period ends.

What if I need more time to move?
You can file a motion for an extension of time. The day before you are scheduled to be evicted, go to the Advice Desk in the back of Room 602 of the Daley Center and ask the person sitting there to help you file this motion.

What if I was not in court when the judge ordered me to move?
You can file a motion to “vacate” the judges order. As soon as you learn that the judge ordered you to move, go to the Advice Desk in the back of Room 602 of the Daley Center and ask the person sitting there to help you file this motion.

If my landlord wins the eviction action, who can actually force me out of my apartment?
If you live in a CHA building, the CHA police can evict you. Otherwise, only the Sheriff of Cook County can evict you. Your landlord cannot evict you.

What should I do if my landlord tries to force me out of my apartment without following the proper legal procedure for having me evicted?
Call the police. (For more information, read the pamphlet entitled Lock-outs and Retaliation).

Please Note:This information, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

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